Dracula by Bram Stoker

Posted on 14th June 2011 in Reviews

Written over a century ago, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is epic both in stature and its game-changing nature. It’s a book that’s hugely influential not only upon the world of literature, but on popular culture too. Sometimes its success makes it feel as though it has been pushed into the shadows by the very beacon of horror which it created. That being, of course, the vampire Dracula.

Don’t get me wrong; Stoker didn’t invent the vampire. In novella and novel format respectively, Polidori’s The Vampyre and Le Fanu’s Carmilla both preceded it, and before those works the vampire had existed in poetry and fragmentary lore for a long time. Click here to read more.. »

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H. P. Lovecraft

Posted on 19th March 2011 in Reviews

call-of-cthulhu-coverThere are many and varied collections of Lovecraft’s works, but by far the best I’ve come across for choice, selection and awesome references is a Penguin edition of The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories edited by famed Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi.

This is one of my favourite books, and my copy is cared for but very well read. I can’t think of how many train/plane/tube/car journeys and such like it has been taken along on over the years. At times when I couldn’t quite decide which novel to take, or perhaps I wanted a shorter read to match the journey, it would be grabbed off of the shelf and taken in hand or in bag/rucksack and packed ready to go. Click here to read more.. »

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Posted on 20th January 2011 in Reviews

frankenstein-book-coverWhat is it with classic horror authors and their need to impress?  Whilst Mathew Lewis penned the bloody, gothic classic The Monk before he turned twenty, Mary Shelley went one better with Frankenstein, writing the novel at eighteen years old and having it put into print by the time she was twenty.

And like The Monk what a novel it is. Frankenstein has become a game-changer to the point that today it is as recognisable brand-wise as Coca-Cola, Apple Computers, and even its literary-spawned counterpart Dracula.

There is one caveat to this familiarity, as a quick trip to Google Images will show you, and that’s that the monster of the book is often wrongly attributed with the name of his actual creator (thanks in part to the success of James Whale’s classic 1930′s motion picture series). Click here to read more.. »

At the Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft

Posted on 11th January 2011 in Reviews

moutains-of-madnessThis novella, originally published in serial form in February through to April 1936, has been featured in many different books over the decades since its debut.  I first read it in a Lovecraft omnibus I picked up many years ago, before subsequently collecting a more definitive version, and it has been happily burned into my memory ever since.

Lovecraft was a master of horror, dread and lurking sense of doom, and At the Mountains of Madness is a chilling reminder of why that is.  This tale is of an Antarctic expedition which soon discovers eerie ruins beyond a huge mountain range, and within finds numerous, highly-evolved life forms not clearly categorised as animal or vegetable matter.

The location of the bodies’ place of rest creates a problem regarding classification, as their features cannot have evolved naturally in accord with humans as such evolution had not occurred on the geological time scale.  Their biology reminds the narrator William Dyer of monsters of primal myth ‘especially fabled Elder Things in (the) Necronomicon’.   Such is the scene set for collecting of information, but better still a cataloguing of terrors, as the party continues their journey. Click here to read more.. »

The Haunted Dolls’ House by M. R. James

Posted on 22nd December 2010 in Reviews

Haunted Dolls' House book coverMontague Rhodes James was a superlative academic, extremely successful in his life in both scholastic and professional career. As if his academic success itself wasn’t enough, his labours saw fruits in some truly interesting areas.

In something of an almost archaeological and adventurist (dare I say Indiana Jones-leaning) vein he unearthed documentation during his researches which led to the discovery in the crypt of Bury St Edmund’s abbey of several twelfth century abbots whose resting place had been lost for hundreds of years.  Talk about raising the dead. Click here to read more.. »